Highline Schools Superintendent John Welch Leaving For New Job


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BREAKING: On Thursday (March 17th), Highline Public Schools Superintendent John Welch sent out a letter of resignation, announcing that he has “decided to accept the position of Superintendent of Puget Sound Educational Service District.”

Welch has served as Highline Public Schools’ Superintendent since July, 2005.

“Puget Sound Educational Service District (ESD) #121 is one of nine regional educational agencies serving school districts and state-approved private schools in Washington state,” reads the ESD website. “ESDs function primarily as support agencies and deliver educational services that can be more efficiently or economically performed regionally.”

Puget Sound ESD develops and delivers a wide selection of services that provide instructional and administrative support to PreK-12 schools and direct service to students and families.

No news yet on Highline School’s search for a replacement for Welch, but stay tuned as we’ll be posting news soon.

Here’s his letter that was sent out via email to the leadership team in the district which included all principals:

After much consideration, I have decided to accept the position of Superintendent of Puget Sound Educational Service District. This new position presents an opportunity for me to pursue the improvement of public education at a regional level.

I will continue as Highline’s superintendent through the end of this school year. The school board is in the process of developing a transition plan and timeline for a superintendent search. We will share the plan with you in the next couple of weeks.

It has been a privilege to work with each of you. We have struggled together with important issues, and we have made some significant strides together for the benefit of our students. I am grateful for the leadership and passion each one of you brings to your work and for the impact you have had on my professional growth and my leadership. While I look forward to the new challenge before me, I will miss Highline.

I ask you to embrace this change as an opportunity for Highline as well. I am committed to a smooth transition to a new leader. We will keep you informed as the school board develops next steps.

- John Welch

According to Welch’s bio on the HSD website:

Among his accomplishments at Highline are implementation of a new accountability system and the creation of system-wide performance measures.

Under Mr. Welch’s leadership, Highline’s on-time graduation rate has increased by 6%, extended graduation rate by 8%, and the number of students graduating with a university-eligible transcript has improved 15 percentage points.

In 2007, Mr. Welch was named “Most Effective Administrator” by the Washington Association of School Administrators.

Mr. Welch previously served as Highline’s Deputy Superintendent, as Vice President for Administrative Services at South Seattle Community College, and Chief Financial Officer for Federal Way Public Schools.

Mr. Welch earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Washington University and his MBA from Pacific Lutheran University. His post-graduate studies include leadership programs at the University of Denver, Stanford, and Harvard. He is a graduate of the Broad Center Superintendent’s Academy.

John and his wife Lisa have two daughters who attend Highline Public Schools.

UPDATE 3/18/11:

The Highline School District sent out the following press release on Friday, March 18th:

Highline Superintendent John Welch has been hired as the next superintendent of the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD). He will continue to serve as Highline superintendent through August 2011.

“It has been a privilege to serve in Highline and to work with so many people who are deeply committed to the academic success of our community’s children,” said Welch. “This new challenge presents the opportunity to work on improving public education at a regional level.”

Welch is known for being an innovative education leader. Under his leadership, Highline opened Aviation High School, a regional school where students study all subjects in the context of aviation, emphasizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning; and the Big Picture School, a unique and highly personalized high school preparing all students for higher education through a blend of in-school study and out-of-school experiences such as internships. Over the past six years, Highline has promoted a vision of preparing all students for post-secondary education and has seen improvements in graduation rates and in the number of students prepared for and attending college.

Welch has been Highline superintendent since July 2005. Previously, he served as Highline’s deputy superintendent. In 2007, Welch was named Most Effective Administrator in the state by the Washington Association of School Administrators.

The Highline School Board is developing a transition plan and timeline for a superintendent search.

Welch will co-lead PSESD with the current superintendent, Dr. Monte Bridges, for one year with the goals of a smooth transition and uninterrupted progress in serving the region’s early learning and K-12 educational needs. Mr. Welch will assume solo superintendent duties on July 1, 2012.

Puget Sound Educational Service District is one of  nine regional educational agencies serving school districts, private schools, educators, students, and early learning communities in Washington state. ESDs create and provide PreK-12 instructional and administrative services that are more efficient, effective, and of a higher quality when delivered on a regional or statewide basis. PSESD’s service area includes 35 school districts and more than 200 private schools in King and Pierce counties plus Bainbridge Island. Approximately 39 percent of the state’s K-12 public school students –more than 389,000 – are served in the region’s school districts.

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